Let’s say Downtown is a lawn, and the Fremont core is a sprinkler. The grass near the sprinkler is green and manicured. But a few blocks away in either direction, it’s bare spots and Creeping Charlie (the weed, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a guy by that name, too). Boston and I parked on such a neglected stretch of 6th, close enough to see Fremont East’s shock of lights and wanderers, and a swatch of red carpet rolled out for its latest recreational weapon, Triple B.
That’s short for Backstage Bar & Billiards, a low-key lounge doing its own urban sprinkling. The old brick building across from the El Cortez had been vacant for quite some time, and Triple B is filling one corner and a particular whistle-wetting niche. Craft cocktails are covered at Parlour, Mob Bar, Downtown Cocktail Room and Vanguard. Beauty Bar and the Griffin have their hipster followings. Insert Coin(s) and Don’t Tell Mama have their novelties. Brass Lounge and Las Vegas Country Saloon are heavy on music. Hogs & Heifers is an enthusiastic dive. What we drinkers lacked was a straight-up-bar bar, somewhere simple and comfortable without any velvet ropes.
- TRIPLE B
- 601 Fremont Street, 382-2223.
- Daily, 6 p.m.-3 a.m.
Triple B is it. On opening night, it was impressively dark. Billiards tables glowed blue, the only other light coming from video screens, candles, displays of concert collectibles and the eight-decade “turntable library” of part-owners DJ Lethal and local DJ Scotty Boy. At the bar—cleverly designed as a sound-equipment case—a pair of pretty girls pounded matching shots out of miniature skulls. Boston and I kept with the spirit of the place: rum and Coke for her, straight whiskey for me.
The music was good and loud. The pool was amateur and entertaining. When our drinks ran dry, we slipped from the dark into a sort of ultraviolet alley, a blacklight breezeway from the bar to the back patio. It has the lowbrow charm of a college dorm room, with posters of the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Che Guevara in a mosaic of whitewashed records. The “Backstage” part of the name comes from the fact that Triple B will technically be backstage when live-music venue Fremont Country Club opens next year, and it looks the part.
The patio was a different world, with Casino projected on the side of one truck and Fukuburger delicacies flying from the window of another. A random guy said, “Get the No. 7.” There is no No. 7 (douche), but the runny-egg explosion of the No. 2 complemented a side of cinematic eyeball explosion, courtesy of Joe Pesci’s vise. The Fuku boys called out an order for “Ass Clown,” who we guessed was a woman in a dress barely able to contain her suspiciously disproportionate goods. (You gotta love Downtown on a Wednesday.)
While Triple B’s website calls the space “upscale,” that’s not how it feels. It feels broken in, and meant for nights when drinking isn’t an occasion and doesn’t require a menu. In the Downtown lawn, it might just be the kickass plastic flamingo.